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Passwords to be replaced by Googlekey

COMPLICATED passwords for email accounts may be a thing of the past. Smart finger rings and personalised USB keys are the latest security measures that Google wants to introduce.

The internet giant wants to protect users of Gmail and other accounts from being hacked.

Experts have said that it is becoming increasing easy for sites to hack in to your account and obtain key personal information, so Google wants to step up security measures.

Google vice president of security Eric Grosse and engineer Mayank Upadhyay have written a research paper in IEE Security & Privacy magazine, saying that the current system is not sufficiently safe.

"Along with many in the industry, we feel passwords and simple bearer tokens such as cookies are no longer sufficient to keep users safe," they said.

The Yubikey, which is believed to be one of the hardware devices tested by Google, can automatically log users onto all their accounts.

The tiny key can be used in any machine with a USB drive, and acts as a physical "key" to unlock the user's account.

The move would not get rid of passwords altogether but would provide a back-up.

And it would mean that the complex passwords would be done away with.

"We'll have to have some form of screen unlock, maybe passwords but maybe something else, but the primary authenticator will be a token like this or some equivalent piece of hardware," Google said.

The authors of the report have not identified what would happen if the key gets lost.

Ultimately it would mean that other websites and online services would have to support the new typed-in password alternative.

The search giant's security bosses are set to publish their findings next month.